Lewis Hamilton admitted he is relaxed with regards to his new contract with Mercedes and is confident they will reach an agreement sooner than later.
The four-time Formula 1 Drivers’ champion will be out of contract at the end of the season and has been in talks over a new deal since the end of last term. Both parties expressed a willingness to commit to each other but are yet to reach an agreement.
Hamilton is expected to sign a three-year deal worth £120m ($167m) and remain with Mercedes for the foreseeable future despite indicating in the past that driving for Ferrari has always been a dream. The British driver is entering his sixth year with Mercedes and labeled them the best team on the grid as both driver and group target their fifth drivers’ and constructors’ title respectively.
Mercedes team principal and CEO Toto Wolff and Hamilton were hoping to conclude talks before the start of the new campaign, but the Briton indicated the discussions are still ongoing after admitting both parties are looking at how they can extract “more from each other” before closing the deal.
“We’ve been talking and will continue to talk,” Hamilton said, Sky Sports reported. “It’s quite a relaxed atmosphere for us because Mercedes know I’m committed to them and they’ve obviously expressed they’re committed to me.”
“Both Toto [Wolff, Mercedes Team Principal & CEO] and I sit here quite relaxed. It’s about constantly trying to find common grounds. … Ultimately with contracts and partnerships you always want to work on how you can be better, provide a better service and vice versa, how you extract more from each other. So that’s really what we’re working on,” the Briton said.
“If not, don’t worry – it will happen. Obviously we’ve got this year to focus on, but it will for sure happen,” he added, suggesting it is not a worry if talks are not completed before the start of the season.
Hamilton, meanwhile, revealed he is ready for another title battle with Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel after going head-to-head with the latter in 2017. It was the first time the Mercedes driver was challenged by a racer from another team following three years of dominance.
Vettel led the championship going into the summer break, but Hamilton recorded five wins in six races after the break as the German driver suffered reliability issues to wrap up the title at the Mexican Grand Prix with two races to spare.
“Nothing’s going to be different,” Hamilton said. “We’re going to be going hard at it as we did last year. I cannot tell you what’s going to happen in terms of how strong the fight’s going to be, all I can tell you is I’m ready for whatever he has to throw at me. … I’m going to hopefully be doing it with a smile on my face, working with this great team. I’m excited. I’m stronger now than I was last year so that’s a good feeling.”